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USDA-NRCS Celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month

story by Melissa Blair

The USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is honoring contributions made by Hispanic Americans to our Nation during National Hispanic Heritage Month, an annual commemoration held September 15 to October 15. Each year, this time is set aside to celebrate the history, achievements, culture, and contributions of Americans who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico, and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America, and the Caribbean.

The month-long observance begins on the same date five Latin American countries - Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua - celebrate their independence. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their days of independence on September 16 and September 18, respectively.

"Many Backgrounds, Many Stories...One American Spirit" is the theme of this year's National Hispanic Heritage Month. Jennifer Van Eps, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Visual Information Specialist in Spokane, WA, was awarded first place for her 2011 National Hispanic Heritage Month poster entry. Eps' poster will serve as the agency's official poster for 2011 National Hispanic Heritage Month activities.

The first formal recognition of Hispanic Heritage was made by Congress in 1968. Originally designated as the week of Sept. 15, the celebration was centered around the Independence Days of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, which are celebrated on Sept. 15, and Mexico, which is celebrated on Sept. 16.

In 1988, the celebration was extended to 31 days, beginning on Sept. 15 and ending on Oct. 15. It now includes Chile's Independence Day (Sept. 18) and el Dia de la Raza, or the Hispanic celebration of Columbus Day (Oct. 12).

Public Law 100-402 authorizes and requests the president to issue an annual proclamation designating September 15 through October 15, as "Hispanic Heritage Month."

To learn more about how Hispanic Americans help build and improve the Natural Resources Conservation Service program delivery efforts in Texas and its diversity in the workforce, visit

Join us in supporting the many activities taking place around the Nation in commemoration of National Hispanic Heritage Month. For more information, visit

Working hand-in-hand with the people of Texas, the United States Department of Agriculture's NRCS is a federal agency that helps protect and improve the soil, water, air, plants, and animals on Texas land. The NRCS mission "Helping People Help the Land" is done through a partnership effort with landowners, land managers, and others who voluntarily work with NRCS specialists, such as soil scientists, engineers, agronomists, biologists, geologists, rangeland management specialists, and foresters, to develop voluntary conservation plans without a fee. These plans help them conserve, manage and care for their land, livestock and wildlife, by making improvements to farm and ranchland, creating and restoring wetlands, and improving wildlife habitat and grazing lands.

2011 Hispanic Heritage Poster
2011 Hispanic Heritage Poster